Posted in Reconstructed on May 19, 2015

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Welcome to Modern Week on DailyMTG!

As one of my favorite formats to play, and one that I had a hand in creation in, Modern always holds a special place in my heart and mind. A place where anything from the last 10+ years of Magic goes; a place where you can make a smorgasbord of potential archetypes.

A place that you could even call…enchanting.

The creativity in Modern is paramount to me. (For some more great examples, definitely don't miss the whopping 20+ decks in the McArtor's Mentions section this week—there were some really, really great submissions this week!) This week I wanted to feature something we haven't looked at in a Modern ReConstructed article yet. It has some hallmarks of a deck you might recognize—but don't think it's just the same as it appears in other formats. It's full of surprises.

Ready to dive into the creation Ben DeNardo sent me this week? Here we go!

Ben DeNardo's Green-White Enchantress

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The Battle Plan

This deck is an Enchantress deck—that all leads up to a nasty surprise for your opponent.

If you've never seen an Enchantress deck play out before, it's not like anything you really tend to see in Magic elsewhere. They're build around these "Enchantresses"—cards that draw you a card whenever you play an enchantment. Or, in this particular case, Verduran Enchantress and Eidolon of Blossoms.

There are a lot of powerful, cheap enchantments in Magic. However, if you play too many of them on their own, you risk drawing all of them and no action.

Enchantresses change all of that.

By drawing another card every single time you cast an enchantment, you quickly churn through a host of cards—and build your board presence all the while.

In this deck in particular, you use a bunch of mana-ramping enchantments to accelerate quickly. On their own, you would likely run out of gas—but when cards like Utopia Sprawl and Fertile Ground also net you one (or more!) card(s) whenever you cast them, suddenly they look a lot more attractive.

So you're casting enchantments and drawing cards, but what exactly is your end game? What are you building toward?

Well, that's where the nasty surprise comes in:

You see, this is secretly an Emrakul deck.

The problem I have with most Enchantress decks is that they build up all of their resources…and then sit there for seemingly forever, doing nothing and just waiting for their pieces to come together. Then, in an older format like Legacy, for example, they might cast a Words of War and slowly deal damage to you.

The problem with this kind of plan is that it's basically asking to be disrupted somehow. It puts you as potentially soft to countermagic on your crucial spells, and gives your opponent a lot of time to charge up.

On the contrary, this deck just casts Emrakul and kills you.

Since you're adding a ton of green permanents onto the board, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, supercharges quickly and makes a tremendous amount of mana. Between Nykthos and your ramp spells, you can just hard-cast Emrakul on turn five or six if things go well.

I like having a proactive plan in these kinds of decks. In refining this, the two key things I'm going to be looking to do is improving the core engine and making it even more proactive to make sure that, even in a format full of quick decks and disruption like Modern, a strategy like this can compete.

Deck Breakdown

Which cards make the cut, and which aren't quite enchanting enough to stay around? Let's go through the deck card by card and find out!

Let's start with these two key components.

As I mentioned earlier, the ability to turn all of your enchantments into card-drawing machines is crucial to the success of this strategy. With multiples, you can end up turning each Utopia Sprawl into an accelerating Ancestral Recall. You definitely don't want to remove any of these.

Worth noting is that Mesa Enchantress also exists. I tinkered with this deck a little bit, trying out different versions, and found that you actually didn't want more than eight Enchantresses since your enchantment density needs to be high enough and—perhaps just as importantly—the fact Mesa Enchantress is white causes a bit of a blow. Not because of the difficulty to cast it—that's actually pretty easy with fetch lands, Fertile Ground, and Utopia Sprawl—but because it doesn't add to your Nykthos mana! All of those factors combined left Mesa Enchantress on the sidelines for this bout.

While not an enchantment or an Enchantress, this little Elf does some very good work in this deck. The primary enchantments that provide you extra mana enchant your lands—which, unlike a normal Elvish Mystic or Llanowar Elves, Arbor Elf untaps with ease.

Not only does the Elf accelerate you to three mana on turn two so you can cast an Enchantress, it also routinely provides two or three additional mana later on in the game. There's only so many slots for non-enchantment, non-Enchantress cards, but this one has earned its spot.

Ah, there she is: the peak of the Eldrazi force herself. Freshly reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 Edition and ready for battle. If you cast her, it's almost certainly game over.

Emrakul is strong for all the reasons I described earlier. However, there's a bit of a quandary: I want more proactivity, but I also don't want to play more than two Emrakuls. It takes a lot to make a stew, and too many Emrakuls will spoil the broth for you…err, or in other words, if you play four Emrakuls you're going to end up with one (or more!) sitting in your hand too often. After all, you just need to find one and you don't want it to be early on.

The solution? Play a different proactive threat!

Fortunately, there's a great card for this: Sigil of the Empty Throne.

By generating a 4/4 Angel every time you cast an enchantment spell, you can pretty quickly turn the corner and take down your opponent. While there will be hands where Emrakul is better and ends the game quicker (which can be very important in Modern), there will also be times where you can't cast Emrakul and Sigil takes over the game.

I want two copies—and that should do good work toward killing our opponents even more quickly.

As described earlier, Arbor Elf is awesome. However, the difference between one and two mana is substantial in Modern. If I have a turn-one play, I'd rather play a three-drop on turn two—and if I don't, I should have a Fertile Ground to cast. While Voyaging Satyr does good work untapping Nykthos, there's only so much room for non-enchantment spells…and this Satyr doesn't quite make it through to the final build.

Based on the Candelabra of Tawnos, this creature is stellar at untapping your lands. If you've already had a good draw, it's pretty easy for something like this to double the amount of mana you have between untapping lands with Auras on them and Nykthos.

However, the key word there is, already had a good draw. If you've properly establish enchantments on your lands and an active Nykthos, aren't you already in good shape? If you need to start things rolling early, the Magus is a lot weaker since it doesn't accelerate you on the first turn at all. While a neat card conceptually, that can really create some powerful situations, it doesn't quite do enough outside of your best draws for me to keep him around.

While these cost one, two, and three mana respectively, all three of these fit into the same class of card: these are all Auras that you put on your lands…and then those lands generate extra mana. Utopia Sprawl is the strongest in this deck, followed by Overgrowth, then Fertile Ground, but all three are crucial.

They all accelerate your mana, are enchantments that stay on the board, and draw you cards when you have an Enchantress on the battlefield. If Trace of Abundance was a little easier to cast and didn't shut off putting more Auras on that land, I'd at least consider playing that too. Sign me up for the twelve-pack of these!

One strategic note: You'll always want to pile your enchantments on the same land given equal choices because of Arbor Elf, unless you're playing against a deck that has Cryptic Command. (Or some other way to remove your lands.) Don't accidentally get crushed by Cryptic Command.

You would be amazed how many Modern decks have trouble with a Ghostly Prison.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, is Splinter Twin. Your infinite Pestermites can't very well attack into a Ghostly Prison! Cheat an Emrakul onto the battlefield with Through the Breach? Well, they probably don't have the mana left to attack you too.

But even beyond that, decks in Modern are so tight on lands that even casting this against an Abzan deck can cause issues. Suddenly, your opponent has to choose between casting a spell or attacking with Siege Rhino.

And then you land the second one, and their attack step really starts getting sticky.

Now yes, on the flip side, a lot of the cards people play in Modern are efficient one- and two-mana spells. But all your Ghostly Prison effects need to do is buy you time. You have a strong endgame coming, and Ghostly Prison gets you the few turns you are looking for—all while being an enchantment. Sphere of Safety can outright lock your opponent from attacking in many cases. (Though it is a bit expensive at five mana, making me not want more than two.)

I actually want to move to a fourth Prison here, since it is your primary way to buy time. While normally I don't actually like cards in this space very much, since people try to use them to control the game, in this case you're using it as some sort of weird tempo play—a direction I can get behind.

Garruk's primary function in this deck is his marvelous "untap two target lands" ability. While that might not sound impressive, the ability to suddenly switch a Nykthos and your land piled-high with enchantments into a spare eight extra mana is pretty nice en route to casting Emrakul.

However, when I was playing this deck, I ran into two primary problems with Garruk. One, he isn't an enchantment. You really needed a critical mass of enchantments to work, and too often I would deploy my Enchantress and have a Garruk left, which wouldn't dig me any deeper. Second, like Magus of the Candelabra, he was only good when you were already in a solid position. When you curved right into him, he was excellent—but in your more clunky hands you needed something to fix your inconsistencies.

So, Garruk needs to go. And what am I looking for? Well, something to help with consistency—and I found just the card:

As a sort of mega impulse for this deck, Kruphix's Insight works wonders. You will usually find 2–3 spells off of this, which can be exactly what you need to help speed up your deck rolling. Additionally, it can find Eidolon of Blossoms, which is one of your core engine pieces for when that's what you're missing.

I only want two copies because otherwise it starts fighting against enchantment density—but I'm happy to have those two.

Historically, this is the kind of card I would reach and talk about cutting. I would normally talk about how it probably isn't going to accomplish enough on its own.

However, this is not a typical deck.

This deck needs its Enchantresses to work—but they are both fragile creatures. Additionally, you don't want any mucking with your enchantments by using Maelstrom Pulse or the like. The Position stops all of that. And alone that puts it on the edge—but the fact that it also adds three symbols to your devotion is enough to make it pass muster for me here.

The three symbols also (to my surprise) made it play a lot better than Greater Auramancy despite the cheaper mana cost. Against the decks where the hexproof is going to matter, protecting your Verduran Enchantresses and picking up three more mana off of Nykthos was well worth it.

Now, I don't want to draw two copies so I wouldn't play more than two, but I'm good to stick with the two that are in the deck.

Oblivion Ring is a good catch-all solution. While Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety help to lock up creatures, Oblivion Ring is more of a card to take down problematic artifacts or enchantments or about-to-ultimate Planeswalkers. Two is just the number I would want here.

Theoretically, this can be strong if you draw an Arbor Elf late in the game and want to use it immediately as a "ritual" to produce mana. Additionally, it ensures Emrakul kills your opponent by providing it haste, allowing you two attacks. But in general, it doesn't do enough to make me want it here—especially with Voyaging Satyr and Magus of the Candelabra gone.

With all of those changes, that brings the deck to:

Gavin Verhey's Modernchantress

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While it's full of raw power on its own, one of the things I love most about this deck is how many options it has.

Think of your local metagame. And then consider the list of good white and/or green enchantments you could play that are metagame specific. For example: Need to fight against burn decks? You could look at Leyline of Sanctity, Circle of Protection: Red, and Worship—and they'd all be reasonable to put into this deck.

Figure out the matchups you really want to beat, and then find the sideboard options for those decks. While this is the core, feel free to tweak as your local metagame necessitates.

Oh, and be sure to have fun! This is the kind of crazy deck you can show up with in Modern and crush those who aren't prepared for it. Enjoy!

McArtor's Mentions

Each week here on McArtor's mentions, I look at some of the other great decks sent in this week. And as to be expected with Modern, there are some doozies! Check this healthy serving of Modern decks out:

David Anes's Free Prowess

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Bryce Stonehouse's Brown Cloud

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Robert Rasmussen's Goatageddon

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Saito Seiya's Time Emrakul

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Aries's First-Turn Kill

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Masafumi Tokoro's Gifts from Dragons

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Sean Skinner's and Benjamin Lowe's PilArchitect Combo

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Daniel G's Dill Pickles

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Jack Adcock's All That Good Stuff

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Silas Waltzer's Shamans

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yoshimune's MonasteryBob

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Jacob Johnson's Modern Mill

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